What’s for dinner: Seared Steaks with Tomato Salad and Creamy Spinach

Click on the image to go to the recipe on the Everyday Food website.

“You would be a great parent,” my friend Laura said when I was telling her about my niece and nephew’s visit. We wandered around and while I was happy to play Good Uncle part of the time, I totally played Bad Uncle when it came to food. You don’t eat much of  lunch? That’s fine, but you’re not eating until dinner. At a sushi restaurant we got my niece the kids’ menu chicken teriyaki bowl, and I put a small piece of ginger on her plate and said, “I’d like you to just nibble that, please. It’s not too hot.”

“No, thank you,” she said.

“That was a very nice thing to say–but that wasn’t a question,” I said. “In fact, I have already ordered dessert. And if you don’t try that sliver of food, I am going to eat the entire dessert in front of you.”

It worked.

However, that means I also have to hold myself accountable: Tonight’s dinner included a “salad” of raw onions and tomatoes, which are the two foods I hate perhaps more than anything. If I expect a 5-year-old to do it, it’s time to sack up and do it myself.

Cost of ingredients: $13.67. I already had the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, flour and nutmeg.

Substitutions: I bought a single top sirloin steak instead of multiple flat-iron steaks, then chopped it into four pieces.

As easy as they said? Well, maybe if I had remembered to take the spinach out of the freezer. Instead, I ended up creating the parts on a totally different plan: I defrosted and cooked the spinach in the microwave while the onions sauteed. Then I added milk and flour to the pan, then stirred in the now-cooked spinach. Also, I grilled the steak instead of pan-frying it.

How’d THAT turn out? The meat, delicious. The onions and tomatoes, a joyless task but fulfilled dutifully. The spinach. … You know how when they try to pass carob off as chocolate? You know, like “carob-covered yogurt balls” as if they were any sort of equivalent to Milk Duds? It was like that. Despite the addition of flour and cooking time to reduce the sauce, this was clearly “milky” spinach, not “creamy.” If you’re going to ruin a vegetable with cream sauce, opt for the actual cream sauce, and not some watery compromise that pleases nobody. Or, just steam the spinach and serve with the same balsamic and olive oil as the “salad.” (In what world besides Everyday Food Land does two vegetables and a sauce count as “salad”?)

Would I make it again? The steak, of course. The onions and tomatoes, only if it comes up in my roster, at which time I will also choke them down, grimly accepting my fate like one of the characters in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.” (Well, not Tessie Hutchinson, but you know what I mean.)

WHAT SAM WORE: 03-25-10
The shirt: Stretch-cotton tuxedo shirt by Theory, from Last Chance.
The pants: Rebel-fit, Malcom (cq)-wash jeans by Joe’s Jeans,
from now-defunct Vivi’s Boutique in Chandler
The shoes: Super-pointy-toe slip-on boots by Mezlan, from Last Chance.
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